EXCLUSIVE: College threatened criminal charges for conservatives tabling on campus
Lone Star College-Tomball campus police threatened to criminally charge two conservative individuals for tabling on campus Wednesday afternoon.
The university later apologized and admitted its error.
Editor’s Note: Stephen Magee is an employee of the Leadership Institute, which is the parent organization of Campus Reform.
Campus Reform obtained video that showed Sandra Moye, Lone Star College- Tomball Event Reservations Coordinator, accusing Stephen Magee, Leadership Institute Field Representative, and Aleana Smiley, Turning Point USA Field Representative, of violating campus policy by operating an unregistered recruitment table on public grounds.
The pair originally set up their table inside during the college’s organization fair, Magee explained, but relocated outside after being asked to leave the space. Moye, however, insisted that the pair was not allowed to operate outdoors.
Bill Van Rysdam, Director of Media Relations & Communication at Lone Star College, told Campus Reform that the students were “mistakenly asked to leave.”
“The college welcomes people exercising their First Amendment rights and will ensure that this does not happen again,” he clarified in a statement.
When asked whether the involved staff members would be required to undergo additional training, Van Rysdam told Campus Reform that the “incident [had] already been reviewed with the staff members involved and they have already been provided additional training.”
“All college personal routinely undergo training to ensure they are compliant with board police,” he stated.
According to Magee, Moye refused to provide the exact policy that the pair allegedly violated and insisted that she was in the “middle of a meeting.”
Smiley confirmed the incident, alleging that Moye confronted the two for “45 minutes to an hour,” yet “didn’t have time to pull up the policy.”
Magee and Smiley then agreed to speak with campus police who, according to the video, sided with the administration and threatened to press criminal charges if they did not abide by Moye’s request.
“This is not a political issue,” the officer in the video told Magee. “This is a safety issue and a campus issue.”
The officer also accused Magee of being “confrontational” for continuing to ask if the pair were being detained.
Later in the day, Moye sent Smiley an explanation, obtained by Campus Reform, alleging the two had violated the Event Scheduling and Room Reservation policy. The policy requires that sponsors register with Moye prior to reserving a campus space or room for events.
In the email, Moye claims the linked policies are for “reserving a room or table” on campus, though nothing in the policies mention setting up tables.
Mario Castillo, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel at Lone Star College System, also clarified to Smiley in an email, obtained by Campus Reform, that the accusation had been a mistake.
“While the campus may regulate through a proscribed campus-specific process—under limited circumstances—the inside of its buildings, the common outdoor areas (like the sidewalk where you and your colleague were tabling) do not require advance notice or permitting of any kind,” he clarified.
Castillo then told Smiley she has his “support to return” to campus at any time.
“We are the community’s college and we welcome you to use our common outdoor areas to exercise your First Amendment rights,” he stated in the email.
Campus Reform contacted Moye and Castillo for comment. The police office deferred to the college. This article will be updated accordingly.
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